I’m back with another story snippet from my writing course. Again, this is all I have (so far), but you’d better get used to this story, kids, because I think this is the one I want to flesh out. What do you think?
The Boy and the Theatre Girl
I haven’t spoken a word since the day my mom died in my arms. I’m only twelve, but I’ve already seen more than anyone needs to see in their entire life. I can’t watch war movies now. Can’t stand fireworks. Can’t be around a police officer with a gun. (Especially the one who came to bring me to my first foster parents’ home. That made for an interesting afternoon.)
Don’t get me wrong – I can talk. I just don’t want to. It was my stupid talking that altered the burglar to our presence and I’m not making a mistake like that ever again.
Besides. It’s not like I have anything interesting to say anymore.
They’re bringing me to my next foster family tonight. We were supposed to meet at a park, but then they found out that there’s this huge parade at the park and thought it’d be best to avoid that. They know me. They know what I do.
As I pack my things, I wonder for the thousandth time why the Kellers can’t keep me. They’re the fifth family who’s given me up. I know why, but I refuse to believe that it’s just my unwillingness to talk. There must be something else wrong with me. I’m pretty stupid, too – I haven’t gotten a B in any school subject in three years. Scraping along with Cs and Ds is my life now.
That’s probably what it is, I think to myself, shoving my t-shirts in my suitcase. They don’t want a stupid foster kid. All their children are prodigies and I’m… the opposite.
“Almost ready to go?”
I freeze, then turn and nod.
Mr. Keller smiles. “Great.”
He taps his fingers on the doorframe and take three deep breaths. I wait.
“Listen…” He pauses, then continues, avoiding my eyes the entire time. “I know it’s been hard for you. Pretty rough, what you went through. And I’m sorry we can’t keep you.” He looks at me now with a sad smile. “But I hope you do well in this new family. I know you will. They’re a sweet family. Stay in touch, okay?”
I nod once, then turn around again and continue packing. I feel Mr. Keller’s presence behind me for a while but ignore him, hoping he’ll go away. He does, eventually, leaving me with my thoughts.
My thoughts overtake me for the rest of the afternoon, the silent drive with Mr. Keller to the new foster family’s house, and even on their front doorstep. Mr. Keller rings the bell and I stand there, holding the handle of my suitcase with one hand and my messenger bag with the other, my thoughts flying all around my brain and smacking the sides like demonic butterflies.
What will I do now? Will this new family like me? Will I be good enough for them? Will my grades get better so they like me more than anybody else has?
As soon as the door opens, the demonic butterfly thoughts freeze and it’s as if my heart freezes with them.
“Hey!” the girl says, beaming like a goddess. “Mom and Dad went out to get ice cream, then they got stuck in traffic, so it’s just me. You can come on in,” she continues, pulling the door open all the way and standing partially behind it. She looks down the driveway at the car. “Anybody else?”
“No, it’s just us,” Mr. Keller replies, stepping inside.
I barely notice this interaction. It’s taking all of my self-control to not just drop my jaw and stare at the girl for the rest of my life. I yank my suitcase over the threshold and rack my brain, trying to remember her name and wishing I’d paid more attention to the social worker.
Speaking of, where is she?
“Oh, good; you made it,” I hear Janet say right before she appears behind the girl.
I let out a string of curses in my mind and avoid Janet’s eyes.
“You can put your stuff over here,” the girl says to me.
I’m still trying to get over the fact that she spoke to me as she leads me to the family room down the hall. I set my suitcase against the wall and set my messenger bag on top of it.
“Is this all you have?” the girl asks, a hint of sadness in her voice.
I fiddle with the strap of my bag while I try to figure out what she means by that. Before I can shrug or nod, she puts her hand out.
I take it, look up at her, and nod.
She smiles brightly and the butterflies materialize in my stomach.
“I’ve been looking forward to meeting you, Zach.”
I try to smile back at her, but it probably looks more like a grimace. I’ve got to get better at that.
“I asked Mom and Dad if you could be in the room across the hall from me. I hope that’s not weird…?”
I shake my head firmly, the only thing going through my mind being SHE’S STILL HOLDING MY HAND.
“Great!” She lets go of my hand, grins, and opens her mouth to say something else, but is interrupted by the door opening. She turns, leans over a little to check, and smiles at me. “That’s Mom and Dad.”
I follow her down the hall, focusing only on her cherry red hair. I’ve never seen anything that resembles fire that much except, well… fire.
She stops in front of the man and woman – obviously her parents – and holds out a hand towards me.
“Mom, Dad – this is Zach.”
She smiles over her shoulder at me and I know I’m done for.